Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Organ Pipe National Monument Where We’re in Fat City, Mostly

©Bert Gildart: Janie and I are back in Arizona’s Organ Pipe National Monument, an incredible national park-administered area that protects a unique component of the Sonora Desert, the organ pipe cactus.

Over the years we’ve visited this park four times, and it has become one of our favorites. I’ve posted several blogs on the area and written stories about the park for several magazines, generally discovering something new each time. That’s true this time, and though some of my discoveries are good ones, one, I discovered this morning, is not.


Gambol Quail: One of the better things we've just enjoyed here

This morning as we visited with a park volunteer, we learned that six people have been killed in the Mexican town of Sonoyta, a Mexican town immediately over the border that almost flanks the park. As the crow flies, it’s about 7 miles away.

The deaths have all occurred since December and two of those deaths occurred yesterday. Last year while here I also posted a blog on a visit sponsored last year to Quitobaquito. Because of drug running, the trip was made with an armed escort. This year, because of all the deaths and other hostilities, the trip has been cancelled and is not even possible with armed rangers and border patrol, all of which accompanied us last year.


On the flip side, in the one day we’ve been here, I’ve managed to photograph two subjects that I was unable to photograph last year. One, is the Gambol Quail; the other the Senita Cactus.


Northern limit for the Senita, where it just barely expresses itself.

Last year, the birds were just too darn elusive, but this morning I found quail shortly after sunrise, and didn’t have to go far. Stepping out of our Airstream, I heard the familiar clucking sound of the Gamble’s and quickly pinpointed about 12 not more than 25 yards from our trailer. Perhaps someone placed out feed, but, still, quail are not usually tolerant, and so I was surprised to approach closely without having to first myself in a photo blind. Nevertheless, I walked to within frame-filling distance of my 600mm lens.

Organ Pipe is generally thought to be the northern limit of the Senita cactus, but this morning our friendly park volunteer told me one was located near the visitor center and then he outlined a route. The species is unique in that it produces ribs that are much more pronounced than those produced by the organ pipe or the saguaro.

I used a strobe for the image shown here, setting the camera to the manual mode and then stopping down to f22. I set the shutter to 250ths of a second to make the background go a little dark. I did not want to blacken out the Saguaro in the background so played around a bit with the exposure, creating a balance I thought was pleasing.


We added another solar panel to the two mounted on the roof of our Airstream, but this one is separated from the trailer. Solar Mike, back in the Slabs, wired so that it ties in with our current arrangement, cutting off when charge was proper. For the technocrats out there, our three 55 watt panels now soak up close to 9 amps per hour. Because we can move the external one so that it is directed toward the sun, it is more efficient than the two roof-mounted panels.

With all this desert sun and our three solar collectors, we can charge computers and telephones; watch movies; run our Magic Air fan (it’s almost 90 degrees); and run our water pump to take showers-either hot ones or cold ones.

We’re in fat city.



*Gator Drama in Shark Valley


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